MINNEAPOLIS – For the second year running, conservative groups at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities have drawn the ire of their peers, and had their messages censored.
Every year on campus, student groups and university departments are allowed to paint up to three panels on the inside of the Washington Avenue bridge as a way to advertise their groups. Artwork is designed and carried out by those groups. Now for the second year running, vandals have ruined the panels of conservative groups on campus.
“It is clear that the vandals were targeting any group tied to conservative principles because they vandalized every single group that was not left-of-center,” Madison Dibble, the editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Republic said. “I cannot even say right-of-center because they targeted the Bipartisan Issues Group, which is the definition of center.”
The Minnesota Republic is a conservative newspaper published on campus by Students for a Conservative Voice. It is not affiliated with the College Republicans whose panel was also vandalized. Other groups whose panels were vandalized include Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, a free market environmental group, and Turning Point USA.
The murals originally sported slogans advocating free speech, support for President Donald Trump, and advertising the Minnesota Republic. The College Republicans also had a line identifying themselves as “the most hated minority on campus.”
Messages scrawled on the bridge’s panels and windows by vandals included “Hate will loose” (misspelling in original), “You can’t paint over hate,” and “Fuck white supremacy.”
“Over my three years with the Minnesota Republic, we have experienced a fair amount criticism and mistreatment,” Dibble said. “People have protested our speakers, thrown away entire stacks of our publication, and vandalized our murals. I believe it is a small group of people who actively try to censor us. I think most students are indifferent to us, and politics in general.”
“Representatives of the Student Activities Office notified the impacted groups that their panels had been vandalized, encouraging each group to report it to the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) and worked with them on options for repainting,” University of Minnesota Director of Public Relations Evan Lapiska said. “Vandalism is unacceptable and any known perpetrators will be held accountable. UMPD may also decide to seek criminal charges depending on the extent of any property damage.”
Three of the four groups had placed their panels next to each other. They used the vandalism and need to repaint as an opportunity. The nine panels together now read “CENSORED” with the last panel saying “Stop Facism.” The groups’ names are across the bottom of the panels.
“Free speech became a conservative issue and it shouldn’t be one. It should be an issue for everyone,” Dibble said. “The problem I see on campus is that most students don’t agree with fascists like the Antifa censoring speech, but they are afraid of backlash for speaking out.”